Conducting a Survey Using the Client's Staff

Evaluation of Interviewer Performance in the Electricity Rate Study

by Sandra H. Berry

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To save money, clients often suggest using their own staffs to conduct surveys. Survey research managers are reluctant to do this because such staffs are often unqualified and difficult to control. Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) staff (mainly lineman and meter setters) were used in the Electricity Rate Study baseline survey, and this report evaluates their performance. Based on "operational" measures (response rates, quality control results, etc.) the survey was highly successful. However, examination of "analytic" measures (item nonresponse and interviewer variance) revealed that DWP interviewers' reluctance to ask for household income information negatively affected the quality of those data. Despite this problem, overall data quality was comparable to that produced by commercial or academic interviewers. Costs of the DWP survey were toward the high end of the normal range. Prerequisites for successful surveys using clients' staffs are discussed.

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